OMAHA COMMUNITY PLAYHOUSE (OCP) in Omaha, NE invites qualified candidates to submit applications to become its next Artistic Director. Leading the artistic life of OCP, the nation’s largest community theatre, carries with it the rich traditions of nearly 100 years of history along with community hopes for a future that uses the power of theatre to bring artists and audiences together to shape experiences through healing, authentic connection, an expansive idea of inclusivity, celebration, and joy. The Artistic Director serves as an inspirational force within the theatre and the greater Omaha community, reporting directly to OCP’s Executive Director and working in a positive and mutually respectful relationship focused on stewarding an energized and sustainable vision that honors both history and progress. OCP is a home for volunteer artists and technicians who engage in top quality theatrical productions guided by the Artistic Director’s welcoming and encouraging lead supported by a skilled professional staff and contractors. The Artistic Director’s own personal values around diversity, equity inclusion, and access will be strong, well-considered and align with and lift up OCP’s goals of prioritizing a safe and welcoming environment that constantly anticipates and eliminates barriers to participation so that multiple ideas from differing perspectives can flourish. Omaha Community Playhouse has engaged Management Consultants for the Arts to lead the search for their Artistic Director, and interested candidates may apply for this position by visiting this link: https://mcaonline.com/searches/artistic-director-ocp
The Omaha Community Playhouse (OCP) seeks highly collaborative, optimistic, and artistically skillful individuals to be considered for its next Artistic Director. Leading the artistic life of OCP, the nation’s largest community theatre, carries with it the rich traditions of nearly 100 years of history along with community hopes for a future that uses the power of theatre to bring artists and audiences together to shape experiences through healing, authentic connection, an expansive idea of inclusivity, celebration, and joy. The Artistic Director serves as an inspirational force within the theatre and the greater Omaha community, reporting directly to OCP’s Executive Director and working in a positive and mutually respectful relationship focused on stewarding an energized and sustainable vision that honors both history and progress. OCP is a home for volunteer artists and technicians who engage in top quality theatrical productions guided by the Artistic Director’s welcoming and encouraging lead supported by a skilled professional staff and contractors. The Artistic Director’s own personal values around diversity, equity inclusion, and access will be strong, well-considered and align with and lift up OCP’s goals of prioritizing a safe and welcoming environment that constantly anticipates and eliminates barriers to participation so that multiple ideas from differing perspectives can flourish. The next Artistic Director will build upon the past while ensuring OCP’s community relevance is grounded in the highest level of artistic achievement in an atmosphere defined by appreciation and respect.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Spurred on by the Little Theatre movement of the 1920s where theatres for and by the community sprung up across the nation, Omaha Community Playhouse’s roots go back to its founding in 1924. Promising “To raise the drama from a purely amusement enterprise into an educational, cultural force,” the original founders set out to create good plays and musical offerings for their fellow citizens at an affordable price, a value proposition that continues to guide OCP today.
Since its earliest days, OCP has existed as a community theatre drawing upon the talents of the citizens of Omaha and its surrounding neighborhoods. Those citizens have included the mother of a 1-year-old Marlon Brando, a 20-year-old Henry Fonda, and thousands of men, women, and children who have shared their talents and passion for performance with generations of enthusiastic theatergoers.
After a period of iterant residencies, OCP moved into what would be its permanent home in 1959. That space has been renovated, upgraded, and expanded upon through the years and boasts the 558-seat Howard and Rhonda Hawks Mainstage Theatre and the intimate Howard Drew Theatre, accommodating 200-230 patrons in a flexible black box style setting.
The last half century of OCP’s history has been a period defined by prolonged artistic leadership and more recent shorter artistic director tenures. From the 1970s though the mid-1990s, Charles Jones served as the theatre’s artistic visionary, confirming OCP’s reputation as the nation’s leading community theatre while also creating the Nebraska Theatre Caravan, a professional touring wing which has brought high quality theatre statewide throughout Nebraska for almost 50 years. From the mid-1990s through 2014, Carl Beck and Susan Baer Collins were the leadership team that continued to shape and grow OCP for new generations. In recent years, stage directors Hilary Adams and Kimberly Faith Hickman took the artistic reins. Currently, Katie Broman serves as OCP’s Executive Director, the theatre’s top staff role, one she came into after serving as OCP’s Director of Marketing at an earlier point in her career.
OCP is looked to as a leader in the Omaha cultural community, and the top producing theatre in its region. It produces a ten-show season of plays and musicals and offers a robust education program and pre-professional opportunities through a technical theatre training program, stage directing fellowship and other apprentice level experiences. The volunteer artists and artisans who contribute their time and talents to OCP are supported and welcomed by a professional staff dedicated to making the community theatre experience one of high artistic achievement that happens in an open, affirming, and fun environment. OCP is governed by a 32-member Board of Trustees and operates on a $3.5 Million Budget (prior to COVID-19 business interruptions, a level they plan to come back to as reopening is fully established).
More about OCP can be found at https://www.omahaplayhouse.com.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
The next Artistic Director will join an organization that sees a path forward anticipating opportunities such as:
- Using OCP’s assets of talented professional staff, established facility, and civic standing as a leading cultural force to conceive of a bold and bright future;
- Being an open and insightful collaborator on discussions of capital improvements to OCP’s physical plant;
- Harnessing the energy and ideas of a group of volunteers and professionals deeply committed to engaging live theatre, and;
- Finding exciting new paths to diversity while also bringing along long-time dedicated volunteers, supporters, and patrons into all future programmatic activities.
Along with these opportunities, the next Artistic Director must be ready to take shared ownership with OCP’s staff and Board leadership in confronting these and other potential challenges:
- Continuing to shift and adapt OCP’s programmatic life as activities resume in-person while restrictions continue to lift from the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Considering the future of OCP’s professional touring wing, Nebraska Theatre Caravan, with objectivity balanced with creative new approaches to this effort’s impact throughout the state and across the country;
- Being a thoughtful participant in discussions and activities that prioritize creating systems and new ideas that create an environment of radical appreciation for volunteers and staff;
- Taking an active leadership role in developing and mentoring an increasingly diverse corps of artists and artisans that works and plays in a harmonious atmosphere with longtime contributors;
- Finding new ways to surprise, delight, and attract audiences in an increasingly competitive landscape, and;
- Contributing to shaping the celebrations, productions and acknowledgements of the upcoming 100th anniversary.
POSITION AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The Artistic Director is Omaha Community Playhouse’s chief artistic visionary, curator, and guiding ambassador, reporting directly to OCP’s Executive Director. Priorities for the position are as follows:
- Own responsibility for leading all elements of the successful production of OCP’s 10 annual productions, plus special events.
- Personally direct a minimum of three productions per season, plus be a part of the directing team for OCP’s annual mainstage and touring productions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
- Demonstrate particular skill in directing musical theatre productions.
- Work with Nebraska Theatre Caravan management staff on potential touring opportunities.
- Identify, assign, and manage all guest directors for OCP productions.
- Develop, evaluate and maintain guest director evaluations.
- Coordinate production meetings and provide guidance and expertise for problem solving through the production process.
- Oversee OCP’s Play Reading Committee and selection of its members, along with input from the Chairman of the Board and Executive Director.
- Spearhead the booking of travelling theatrical events for OCP to produce during breaks in its production calendar.
- Conceive of new, sustainable structures for building bench strength to support all artistic operations.
- Be active in Omaha’s burgeoning theatre scene as a welcoming colleague, collaborating with other theatre makers in the community and seeking out and encouraging participation of new talent in OCP productions.
- Acknowledge the importance of creating a balanced season with a mixture of well-known commercial titles and lesser-known titles.
Management and Administration
- Conduct affairs of OCP as a “servant leader” always showing deep appreciation to volunteers and professional staff alike.
- Manage all artistic staff (to include hiring, evaluations, and salary recommendations) in consultation with the Executive Director.
- Participate in all Board meetings, Executive Committee meetings, Foundation Board meetings, and other Board committee meetings as assigned by the Executive Director or President of the Board.
- Coordinate and conduct annual performance reviews for direct report staff members.
- Work with the Executive Director, OCP Board, and accounting staff to develop and monitor budgets for the artistic season and be accountable for its outcome.
- Work with appropriate staff to determine the season production calendar.
- Actively participate in fundraising.
- Participate and be a leader in strategic planning process.
- Provide proactive leadership to artistic staff and maintain a productive working environment.
Education and Mentorship
- Champion efforts and lead by example in areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and community engagement while guiding and overseeing this department.
- Oversee the programming and execution of the Education and Outreach department and imagine new and innovative ways to build upon OCP’s Theatre Technology Apprenticeship Program, Directing Fellowship, Henry Fonda Theatre Academy and other fundamental education and enrichment opportunities.
- Show a personal commitment to OCP’s values that promotes diversity among participants and stakeholders and creates an environment where the good of the community is held in highest regard.
- Ensure that OCP is offering programs and initiatives that prioritize accessibility for the entire community.
Outreach and Community Building
- Assist marketing department to develop and implement marketing ideas for season productions.
- Serve as an enthusiastic ambassador for OCP in interviews and other public relations opportunities.
- Foster good relations with other cultural organizations by participating in meetings and joint activities when appropriate.
- Participate in and attend all major fundraising and patron events.
- Oversee and conceive of engaging activities for Annual Awards Night, Season Announcement, and other special celebration events focused on lifting up and celebrating the OCP and Omaha community.
- Network with other community theatres and other comparable professional theatres nationally and in the region.
- Ensure OCP visibility with Theatre Arts Guild, Great Plains Theatre Commons and Nebraska Arts Council.
Candidates seeking this opportunity to serve as OCP’s next Artistic Director should also be confident about how they will address strengths and stretches in these desired traits and skills:
- A positive outlook, someone who sees opportunity in challenge.
- A desire to be the team captain, taking the greatest satisfaction out of a group’s combined efforts.
- Capacity to meet people where they are, be an active listener, and serve as a mentoring influence.
- Comfort working with Microsoft Word and Excel.
- A personality that appreciates open debate in a respectful and forward moving manner, always believing the best decisions come from collaboration and listening to a broad range of opinions.
- High level of organizational skills and ability to prioritize tasks.
- A strong work ethic and dedication to accountability and responsibility.
- An honest broker, someone who is able to build trust in and amongst a team.
- A fun-loving spirit, someone who believes balance is an important thing to celebrate in work, play, and life.
- Flexibility in working days, nights and weekends.
- Strategic thinker who can execute upon ideas.
COMPENSATION AND START DATE
The annual salary range for the Artistic Director role at Omaha Community Playhouse starts at $90,000 and includes a full benefit package commensurate with other organizations of its size. OCP hopes to make its decision by Summer of 2021 with the chosen candidate taking on the position shortly thereafter.
HOW TO APPLY
Jonathan West is the consultant from MCA leading this search. Interested and qualified candidates should submit the following items for consideration:
- A current resumé
- Cover letter (no more than 1 ½ pages)
- Three professional references
- Salary expectation
All documents should have the candidate’s name as part of the file name. Submissions should be made through Management Consultants for the Arts’ website at: